Scott’s Toy Box: Resolve to Play as a Family
It’s the holiday season and things get hectic at this time of year. So much so that I might have forgotten to look for toys and games for this month. Because of my oversight, I thought it would be good to reprint my January column from 2013 –wow, from almost 10 years ago! Please consider the tips below in making a family game night a regular occurrence in your home and I’ll be back next month with more games you can play.
Each month for a couple of years now, I’ve set out to find toys and games that your children would love. But the excitement over the new always tends to die down, and excitement over the next replaces it. So this month I’m taking off with introducing the next toys your child will ask for and instead proposing a resolution to add to your list for the New Year. This year, resolve to play as a family with the toys I write about. Here are ideas to help make this resolution stick.
Schedule an hour each week to play as a family
With work, school, extracurricular activities, and driving from place to place, a lot of the week is spoken for. The best way to ensure that there is family playtime is to wedge it into your schedule. Maybe after lunch on Sunday works for everyone, or maybe Tuesday night right before bed is best. Pick the time that works for your family and plan to stick to it. Being specific not only makes the chances of it happening better, but also may give everyone something to look forward to.
Organize the storage of your games
One way to waste time is by trying to find a game to play. Cut out this waste by finding ways to organize your games so that they are accessible and easy to find. Get a chest or trunk to store them in. Maybe display a couple of the family favorites in your living room and play from those. You can even have someone cycle them out. Also think about the storage inside each box. Some games come with great storage for each piece, while others seem to include a sorting “game” that comes before the real deal. An organizational system can be as simple as a rubber band around the cards or a bag that collects all the pawns. But don’t let the tedious task of setting up a game take away from the family playtime.
No game or toy is off limits
The whole point of family playtime is to interact with your family, so you may think video games are out of bounds. It’s true that watching television is a passive activity, but video games by definition are interactive. Most games have some sort of multiplayer mode in them, and even if it’s a single-player game, everyone around can enjoy the experience of going through the game together. This is also a great way to make sure the game is age appropriate for your child.
Family playtime doesn’t have to be just board games. Get out that dollhouse or R/C car and play with these toys together. Even if you know how to play with a toy, get your child to teach you how he plays with it. Interaction is the key, not what you’re actually playing with.
House rules can add excitement to a game that’s been played several times, even though it does spawn the “this is how I’ve played with it since forever” argument. It’s also important to enact some house rules for family playtime itself. Having a way to decide who gets to choose which game to play can cut down on wasting time and save you from having to settle an argument.
The More the Merrier
Family playtime doesn’t mean that everyone in the family always has to do the same thing. There are several games out there that can be played by 2-6 people, so split the family up and have two different games going on at the same time (this may also save you from settling an argument). If you have a small family, invite extended family members, another family, or even just a couple of friends to get in on the fun.